Starts With A Bang

Ask Ethan #49: Do the cosmic unknowns cast doubt on the Big Bang? (Synopsis)

Image credit: wiseGEEK, © 2003 — 2014 Conjecture Corporation, via http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-cosmology.htm#; original from Shutterstock / DesignUA.

“Whenever you have infinities in a theory, that’s where the theory fails as a description of nature. And if space was born in the Big Bang, yet is infinite now, we are forced to believe that it’s instantaneously, infinitely big. It seems absurd.” –Janna Levin

Of course, we don’t believe space was born in the Big Bang, but this wasn’t intuitive for a long time! Indeed, given the cosmic unknowns of inflation, dark matter and dark energy, and the fact that what we consider to be “normal matter” only makes up around 5% of the total amount of energy in the cosmos, isn’t it time to revisit the Big Bang?

Image credit: ESA and the Planck collaboration (main), NASA / wikimedia commons user 老陳 (inset).

This week’s Ask Ethan forces us to ask some very tough questions: in particular, if these new discoveries don’t cast doubt on the Big Bang itself! In particular (excerpted):

How is it possible to extrapolate back to the big bang, when so little of the matter and force in the universe is understood?

Image credit: NASA / WMAP science team.

Come and get the answers here.